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Building Muslim Spaces in a Secular Society:
African Muslims in Philadelphia

Funded by the Social Science Research Center

For better understanding of African Muslims in the U.S.A., there is urgent need to engage them in dialog with citizens in their host communities and with academics who study and write about them. One way to counter the negative associations and the lack of adequate knowledge about Islam more generally is to identify and document the key issues that concern local Muslims in their everyday lives, from religious practice and education to the nature of their participation in the economic and civic life of America. There are over 100,000 African immigrants living in the Greater Philadelphia area. In Philadelphia, there are many exclusively African-run churches, mosques and businesses, Africa-focused radio programs, and over 40 African community-based organizations many are members of the Coalition of the African Communities - Philadelphia (AFRICOM). Proposed Activities:

  1. Creation of the Islam in Africa Forum (IAF) with representatives from the University of Pennsylvania community, local colleges in Philadelphia with interest in African Muslims, and representatives from the Philadelphia's African Muslim communities. The IAF is intended to serve as a public forum for the discussion of specific topics of interest for all groups that will enhance better understanding. In order to engage the public, some of IAF will be scheduled at branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia in order to engage the community at large in these discussions.
  2. Radio programming to reach out to wider communities in the Diaspora. The radio programming anticipates the use of call-in Africa focused radio programs that will provide opportunities for sharing ideas and in furthering the dialog between the two communities.
  3. Producing 5 (5-7 minutes) videos that will document the process of cultural transactions through which Africans strive to create Muslim space and places in America.
  4. Developing a new course that will introduce Penn students to the Muslim African communities of Philadelphia.
  5. Collection of print and online materials that will include sermons, devotional poems, hagiographies, newspapers, newsletters, commentaries on current events, school texts, meeting minutes, petitions to local agencies, which circulate within the African Muslim community and reflect its public and private concerns.
  6. Two-day long media training for interested parties at Penn and surrounding schools on how to deal with media to provide better understanding on Islam and Muslims.

For inquiries please contact the Outreach Director:
Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D, (215) 898-6610

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